Junior high schools organize military field trips

An increasing number of junior high schools organize field trips to Japan's Self-Defense Forces in order for students to understand the workplace from firsthand experience.

The Japanese Constitution prohibits Japan from maintaining armed forces. Teachers and parents are much concerned about the study trip possibly being used to brainwash children into accepting the SDF without questioning their constitutionality.

The All Japan Teachers and Staff's Union (Zenkyo), the Chiba Prefectural Peace Committee, and Akahata have learned that at least 40 junior high schools in 13 prefectures last year organized such school trips to the SDF.

Akahata on April 17 reported that study trips to the SDF include the presentation of PR films, briefing on SDF duties, tours of facilities, and the taking of souvenir photos of students wearing camouflage fatique. Some schools students rode on tanks, armored trucks, or helicopters. Even some primary schools had similar visits to the SDF. Children are not taught about the contradictions between the SDF role and the Preamble of the Japanese Constitution and Article 9 which stipulates a ban on militarization.

Children after their SDF visits said, "The SDF are not for war but are there to protect us," or "To prevent being attacked, the SDF exists."

Along with children's growth, to learn the peace principles of the Constitution, such as why Japan chose to abandon armed forces after WWII, is one of the most important themes in junior high school social studies. Without it, field trips ostensibly to have firsthand experience with the SDF is problematic, Akahata commented.

Morita Toshio, peace and international educationist said, "Taking children's development into consideration, we should keep children from tanks, warships, or military exercises. This is educationally common sense. Only after children become grown-ups, will they have the maturity to judge whether to accept or reject military forces." (end)